Neon Genesis Evangelion Remake after Code Geass: Is it a Risk Worth Taking?

Neon Genesis Evangelion

It’s been over 25 years since Neon Genesis Evangelion first aired and revolutionized the mecha anime genre. Creator Hideaki Anno’s landmark series took the familiar premise of giant robot battles and injected it with startling psychological depth and biblical allegory. It explored the psyches of its young mecha pilots grappling with parental abandonment, depression, and existential questions in uncommonly mature ways for an animated work.

The series became a cultural phenomenon, spawning multiple feature films that continued and concluded the captivating story. Its impact and popularity have reverberated through the decades, influencing scores of other anime and manga.

Now, in a recent interview, Anno has dropped hints that a Neon Genesis Evangelion remake could be on the horizon, though any concrete plans are still nebulous. He even raised the possibility that he may pass the baton to another creator for a new take, allowing them a high degree of freedom with the material.

While the prospect of more stories in the NGE universe is exciting, the idea of someone other than Anno guiding it gives pause; does evangelion even need an update or remake?

Just look at the mixed results of the recent attempt to revive and reinterpret the beloved Code Geass mecha series…

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Taking Code Geass as an Example: The Risks and Rewards of an NGE Remake

 

The original Code Geass anime aired from 2006-2008 and quickly cemented itself as a modern mecha masterpiece. Its tale of an exiled prince leading a rebellion against his oppressive empire, but this time with mind-bending narrative of stratagem and manipulation, scratched an itch even Death Note failed to satisfy.

The vibrant characters, exhilarating mech battles, and thought-provoking examinations of power and revolution struck a chord — and the ending genuinely changed lives (at least for us).

Where the Code Geass Remake went Wrong

Lelouch in Code Geass Season 2
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 | Image via TMDB

However, in the years since its conclusion, the Code Geass franchise has struggled to replicate that initial magic through various revisits and expansions. The 2017-2018 recap film trilogy recut and revised the series’ plot, but felt largely redundant for veteran fans. 2019’s Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection continued the films’ storyline, but earned mixed reviews as a hollow revival lacking the depth of the original work.

  • Most recently, a full remake series titled Code Geass: Z of the Recapture was announced in 2020 as the vanguard of a 10-year plan for the franchise. Originally slated to arrive in 2021, it has been indefinitely delayed, though anticipation builds with each new production update.

For fans like us, these remakes and revival projects have been at best inessential and at worst an outright bastardization of the beloved original characters and narrative. While the new animation and designs hold novelty, they’re often seen as soulless cash grabs devoid of the magic that made the first series so special. They’re okay if you want fan service, but if you value story above all else, you’re better off sticking to the TV series.

The original NGE’s Charm

 

This fear of a revered work being tarnished by unnecessary revisits is precisely what has some Neon Genesis Evangelion fans apprehensive about Anno’s recent comments.

Does one of the most psychologically probing and thematically rich mecha series of all time truly need an update or remake over two decades later? What if it falls into the same traps as Code Geass’ failed revivals?

  • There’s an argument that Evangelion’s dated but distinct 90s animation is an inextricable part of its charm and atmosphere. The way the series explored depression, abandonment, and existential malaise through the lens of the young pilots’ personal struggles are also inseparable from the cultural context in which it was conceived.

A modern reimagining could rinse away some of those unique qualities in favor of contemporary visual novelties and tone shifts.

Counter Argument in favor of a Neon Genesis Remake

Unit-01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion Remake
Unit-01 | Courtesy of Gainax
  • However, the counterargument is that brilliant stories can be reinterpreted for new generations without losing their core essence.

If respectfully and artfully rendered, an Evangelion remake could be an opportunity to resurface those philosophical themes in a new way – one that is more accessible to modern anime fans. A thoughtful new approach with the benefits of new production techniques could potentially enhance the material rather than diminish it.

  • Anno himself understands the risks, which is likely why he’s entertained having a new creator steer any potential new evangelion project while he oversees in more of an advisory role.
  • This would allow a new voice to put their own spins on the dense material while striving to retain the tenets that made it so monumental in the first place.

Ultimately, any Neon Genesis Evangelion remake will be greeted with immense skepticism from the fanbase. Like the recent Code Geass stumbles, there’s a very real fear it could sully and cheapen the indelible legacy of the original rather than honor it. But there’s also a possibility that the right creative mind could breathe new life into one of anime‘s most vital psychological epics for a new generation.

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